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Appeals court partially reinstates colonoscopy malpractice claim

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A northern Indiana court inappropriately granted summary judgment in favor of a doctor and medical practice defending a suit brought by a patient who claimed negligence after a colonoscopy, a divided panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

Katherine Chaffins claimed severe pain after a procedure and that she was improperly released from the hospital, after which her pain continued until she returned and was diagnosed with a perforated colon that required surgery.

The appeals panel majority wrote in Katherine Chaffins and Roger Chaffins Sr. v. Clint Kauffman, M.D.; Family and Women's Health Services; and Pulaski County Memorial Hospital, 66A04-1302-CT-85, that the Chaffinses conceded there was no evidence to support the opinion that the doctor misperformed the procedure resulting in the perforation, but there were issues making summary judgment inappropriate.   

The majority partially reinstated a malpractice claim, finding the plaintiffs presented “sufficient evidence to negate the opinion of the medical review panel, thereby establishing a genuine issue of material fact.” The majority granted a limited reversal of Pulaski Superior Judge Patrick Blankenship’s grant of summary judgment. Blankenship relied on the medical review panel’s finding that the defendants did not fail to meet the applicable standard of care.

“What remains is the Chaffinses’ claim that the Defendants’ alleged negligence caused Katherine to suffer twelve hours of prolonged pain. At oral argument, the Defendants conceded that prolonged pain was contemplated by the ‘physical injuries’ allegation in the Chaffinses’ complaint. Accordingly, we conclude that (defendants) failed to make a prima facie showing that there is no genuine issue of material fact as to causation. Summary judgment in favor of Dr. Kauffman and the Hospital was inappropriate,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in the majority opinion joined by Judge Patricia Riley.

Judge Elaine Brown dissented, saying she would affirm summary judgment, noting the doctor relied on his nurse to inform him of Chaffins’ pain after the colonoscopy, which even the defendants’ expert before the review board acknowledged wasn’t inappropriate. Chaffins also was advised to return to the hospital if pain persisted.

“There is no designated evidence to show that the (dismissal) instructions deviated from the standard of care appropriate to Dr. Kauffman and Family and Women’s Health Services,” Brown wrote.

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  1. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  2. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

  3. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  4. I totally agree with John Smith.

  5. An idea that would harm the public good which is protected by licensing. Might as well abolish doctor and health care professions licensing too. Ridiculous. Unrealistic. Would open the floodgates of mischief and abuse. Even veteranarians are licensed. How has deregulation served the public good in banking, for example? Enough ideology already!

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